Google’s Solution to Unify Their Databases

by Brian B
The article I chose this week is named “Google Spans Entire Planet With GPS-Powered Database” by Cade Metz. The article starts off by talking about a Google Engineer named Vijay Gill while he was at a conference. The question he was posed was how he would change how “Google’s datacenters if he had a magic wand (Metz, 2012).” His answer was “he would use that magic wand to build a single system that could automatically and instantly juggle information across all of Google’s data centers (Metz, 2012).” The interesting part of this article is that Google has done just that. The solution that he had in his answer is called Spanner. Spanner is a system that lets Google “juggle data across as many as 10 million servers sitting in “hundreds to thousands” of data centers across the globe (Metz, 2012).” The power of Spanner is that it lets many people handle the data around the world, while “all users see the same collection of information at all times (Metz, 2012).” Spanner accomplishes this task with its TrueTime API. Along with this API Google has also gone to the trouble of setting up master servers with built-in atomic clocks coupled with GPS to ensure accurate server times. This allows the entire network to stay roughly synched up with all of the different parts of Google’s data infrastructure. The article goes on to say that usually companies will just use a third party as their clock instead of installing their own.  It ends on the fact that this kind of approach would be cost too much for most companies to implement, but that Google tends to be ahead of the curve.

I thought that it was a good article for our class because it ties into a lot of the subjects that we have covered this quarter.  I also thought it was relevant to this week’s topic because this takes the scope of database administration and makes it cover a huge amount of data and numerous databases around the world under one service that is trying to unify all of Google’s data to make one large dataset for everyone using Google’s services. This is an amazing step in simplifying the storage of data in a corporation because it will allow huge businesses to better manage and maintain the data that they are creating through day to day business.

I found the article to be really interesting because it is taking the concept of a unified database for a business, and data warehousing, to an entirely different level than it has even been on before. If they are truly successful in their endeavor it may revolutionize the way that data is stored and manipulated in the business world. If they are able to get it where everything is synched almost perfectly and everyone truly is viewing the same data across the globe it would make Google’s business incredibly efficient. Not only that but it would possibly be one of the most efficient data practices in the world because they would not have a need to actively sort their different databases and make sure that they all had the same data, it would just be like that automatically.

Metz, C. (2012, 09 19). Google Spans Entire Planet With GPS-Powered Database. Retrieved from

4 thoughts on “Google’s Solution to Unify Their Databases

  • December 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Spanner seems like an interesting tool. It’s pretty cool how all users can see the same information no matter where they are in the world. I’m curious to see how well this tool can be used in other areas of the business world. Thanks for the post.

  • December 2, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    This seems to be a good article because I think it is important that engineers and big technology companies start thinking about ways to improve data administration. It would be very useful for companies to consolidate their data and allocate it all into one place automatically.

  • December 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Nice post. Spanner is the planet enveloping tool for organizing the world’s monetizable information. It’s a database that scales to millions of machines and trillions of rows. Spanner database technology allows a database to store data across multiple data centers, millions of machines and trillions of rows. But it’s not just larger than the average database, Spanner also allows applications that use the database to dictate where specific data is stored so as to reduce latency when retrieving it. Thanks for sharing.

  • December 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Brian, once again, thank you for a very relevant and well written blog post man! And yet again its on Google (haha). Though, seeing as how Google basically depends on databases to function and that their search is their flagship product after so many years, it is no surprise that Google would be ahead of the curve in terms of creating innovative database technology. As my article mentions, it was Google and Yahoo that helped carry and flaunt the image of the baby MySQL back in the start of the new millennium. Now with Big Data and the always-connected generation, it seems that Spanner is a very needed product out in the market and if Google could even find a way to monetize their product, it would reap in millions more that was Google is already making as their product is unheard of, and up until now, seemed impossible to do.

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